It's a beautifully sunny day here, and probably not the best time to try to wire in an electronic time-switch to our water heater which came yesterday without instructions.
Yes, that is the same water heater that I flooded our neighbours downstairs with last week. I know what you are thinking - that if I do attempt to learn not only how to install it but also how to program it on a Saturday, this could provide over two day's worth of amusing anecdotes for the blog - if I don't electrocute myself or set our compact but adorable city apartment on fire in the process.
Where instruction manuals do exist, they normally start from the premise that the new owner of the product has had some sort of experience with the technology before, so - in order to keep the manual as brief as possible - the writers of them take certain basic things for granted, such as, 'when you touch electricity, it hurts'.
If they had to translate and print 'when you touch electricity, it hurts' into 20 different languages, then the simple manuals would take up enough paper to fell a small forest, so they can be forgiven for omitting it, but even an advanced set of basic instructions would be of help to someone like me.
I have a friend who makes a point of buying cheap, Chinese goods which he has no real use for, just because he loves the Chinese translations into English. For him, they read like surreal poetry and he usually throws the product away whilst carefully storing the instruction manual. The best Chinese translations are usually for products which arrive disassembled, and are supposed to help you to put them together in the peace and tranquility of your own home. My friend has regular readings of the best ones, in the same way people give recitals of poetry in groups at a pub.
I find that it is almost impossible to remember these Chinese translations without referring to the actual manual, but it is quite possible to simulate them by using an online translator, like Google's. You simply type a sentence of English into the translator, select a language, copy the translation in that language, then paste it back into the translator and select English again. I don't know what happens to the essential meaning after it has been through the system only once, but the resulting sentence hardly bears any resemblance to the original at all. If you keep this process up for a few more times, it gets extremely creative, like Hal when they pulled the plugs out in 2001. I am sure this is how most wars start these days.
I would give you an example of this, but Google got so fed up with me translating profanities into different languages that they banned me from using the service completely. I now have to re-register with them and promise to behave myself before they will let me anywhere near it again, and I haven't yet got around to lying to them like that.
Before they put a stop to my shenanigans, I managed to get the Japanese character for the word which alerts Sarah Toa that there may be something of interest in a post, and here it is:
Re the water heater, I might give that plumber a call on Monday, unless any of you have a handy set of instructions for it that you can lend me.